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30 Oct 2002 : Column 796Wcontinued
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 15 October 2002, Official Report, column 540W, on military companies, how many private military companies he estimates provide forces for combat; and how many United Kingdom nationals in total he estimates are so employed. 
Mr. Ingram: As I explained in my answer of 15 October to the hon Member, the FCO Green Paper entitled XPrivate Military Companies: Options for Regulation" published on 12 February 2002 highlighted the problem of defining a private military company. I noted that in practice, a wide spectrum of people and companies may be involved in the supply of military and security services. The Green Paper also notes that the distinction between combat and non-combat operations is not always clear. Companies may employ only a relatively small core of full-time staff and recruit personnel for individual contracts on a case-by-case basis. United Kingdom nationals could also potentially operate overseas on a freelance basis, but such activity is difficult to monitor. Given these difficulties, it is not possible to provide any meaningful estimates of the number of companies that provide forces for combat or how many United Kingdom nationals are so employed. The absence of any register of companies describing themselves as Private Military Companies further undermines any attempt to produce a meaningful estimate.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action has been taken to ensure that vaccinations and preventive medicinal measures are properly reported on service personnel medical records; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: It is Ministry of Defence policy that all treatments and vaccinations given to personnel are to be recorded on their personal medical records. Any treatments or vaccinations administered to personnel whilst they are deployed are recorded on their operational medical record and the information transferred to their personal medical records on return. All three Services have routine administrative
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procedures in place to check that the medical records of both Regular and Reserve personnel are both up to date and accurate.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether service personnel military medical records are available to their civilian doctor if requested; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The Service medical records of ex-Service personnel are available to civilian doctors if the individual serviceman or woman consents to their release.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances Service personnel military medical records are not made available to their civilian doctor when requested; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The military medical records of Ex-Service Personnel are not made available to the individual's civilian doctor unless the individual consents to their release.
Mr. Jenkin To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe will play in cases where an EU-led crisis operation does not use NATO assets. 
Mr. Hoon: EU-led operations without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, planning and command requirements would draw on existing national and multinational headquarters available to the EU. The Operation Headquarters would be based on an existing national headquarters, such as the permanent joint headquarters at Northwood, augmented by officers from participating nations. NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe will be kept informed of the general progress of the operation. He would also co-ordinate responses to EU requests to NATO for planning support. These arrangements are subject to finalising agreement on modalities for EU-NATO co-operation.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military units have had post-operational leave cancelled or postponed in order to provide personnel for Operation Fresco. 
Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon Member to the answer I gave on 24 October 2002, Official Report, column 439W, to the hon Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr Simpson). Elements of the following five units have had post-operational leave postponed: 1 Royal Horse Artillery; the 1st Welsh Guards; 22 Engineer Regiment; 26 Engineer Regiment; and the Household Cavalry Regiment.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements have been made to maintain ships taken out of service to release personnel for Operation Fresco. 
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Mr. Ingram: Maintenance packages are in place on all vessels involved in providing personnel for Operation Fresco. Fleet continues to closely monitor these ships and any additional measures necessary to limit degradation will be taken.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy ships have been taken out of service in order to release personnel for Operation Fresco. 
Mr. Ingram: HMS Exeter, HMS Kent, HMS Lancaster, HMS Manchester, HMS Norfolk, HMS Newcastle and HMS Portland have had their operational programmes changed in support of Operation Fresco.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make a decision on the PFI contract in respect of the Royal Engineers establishments at Chatham and Minley. 
Mr. Ingram: We currently anticipate that a decision on the selection of Preferred Bidder will be made in January 2003.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ships at sea on deployment have the full crew complement; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: In meeting demanding manpower targets, the Admiralty Board has agreed Strategic Manning Priorities. These are reviewed annually.
Under current priorities only submarines are required to reach 100% manning whilst at sea on deployment. Currently, however, there are eight surface vessels and three submarines on deployment outside home waters that have full crew complements.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ships at sea on deployment have a crew complement of more than five per cent. less than the full crew complement; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: There are 37 surface ships and three submarines currently on deployment outside home waters. Of these vessels, 11 high readiness vessels have a full crew complement, 16 have a complement between 95100% of their full complement, nine have a complement between 9095% and two ships have a complement of under 90%. Of these latter two ships one has a total complement of eight and is one crew member short. The second ship, although on deployment doing valuable work, is at a lower state of readiness.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) soldiers, (b) sailors and (c) airmen have committed suicide in each year since 1972. 
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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Centrally held statistics on suicides using consistent definitions are only available from 1984 onwards.
There have been 445 recorded suicides between 1 January 1984 and 31 December 2001 within Regular Armed Forces (including Gurkhas). There figures are
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based on coroners' (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) verdicts of suicide, and exclude self-inflicted deaths with open verdicts, accidental deaths or deaths due to misadventure. Figures from 1995 may change as there are a number of verdicts outstanding, and from 1999 changes to these figures may be significant. A breakdown by Service and by year is as follows: Number of reported suicides in the Armed Forces by Service over the period 1 January 198431 December 2001
|Year of death|
Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action his Department is taking to ensure that the timber based board products and furniture is from legal and sustainable sources; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence's policy on timber procurement is laid down in JSP 418, the MOD Environmental Manual, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. Paragraph 4023 of JSP 418 states that all timber and timber products should be procured from sustainable sources.
The MOD has introduced a new condition of contract, which places an express contractual obligation on its suppliers to comply with the Government's policy on supply or consumption of timber and products containing wood, and, in addition, to supply data to verify that compliance.
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